Are you a sign of hope, or are you a sign of despair? There’s a choice that every human being alive has to make. Are you going to give your life as a sign of good… or as a sign of something else?
Of course, we’re getting ready for Christmas this week, and we’re all excited about the Christmas message– however we might understand it. Some of us may be thinking about the birth of the Lord Jesus theologically, as did Saint John in his prologue to his gospel. Others may be thinking on the wonder of Jesus’ birth in more simple terms: that a child was born as a sign of God’s love for us.
I generally find myself straddling those two worlds—on the one hand, having studied theology, I cannot help but think of the birth of Jesus theologically. But as a parent who had the joy of being there when my children were born (and who vividly remembers bringing them home from the hospital), I still relate on the emotional and human level to the miracle of birth, new life of any sort, and the sense of hope that a parent has on that day that he/she brings the infant home and begins the adventure of parenthood.
The sign of Immanuel from Isaiah (Isaiah 7:10-16) is a sign of God with us… a sign of hope in the face of great despair. The name Immanuel means “God with us.” And it serves to remind us that God is with us even when we fail to see the light of His presence, and the reality of His being with us.
Ahaz, the king for whom the sign was given in Isaiah, was most certainly not one who looked on the more positive side of things. But what matters this season is, where are you? Do you live in the possibility of God, or do you live in the possibility of His absence?
We tend to dismiss those who live in the possibility of God as prophets, dreamers– those lacking in realism. We tend to value those who live with both feet on the ground, as the pragmatic ones. We tend to miss that pragmatism and realism do not serve the possibility of hope. In fact, I’ve been at plenty of meetings in which the pragmatism and realism expounded there obliterated all hope, all joy, all creativity.
We are called to be signs of Immanuel, too. God is with us. So, what do you pump out there? God grant that it is Hope and Vision.